3rd T20I: Was aware of the DLS situation, told Hooda to stay there; says Hardik Pandya

India skipper Hardik Pandya, who played a crucial knock and helped his side end the rain-affected third and final T20I against New Zealand in a tie following rain interruption here on Tuesday, said he was aware of the Duckworth-Lewis (DLS) target and asked his batting partner Deepak Hooda to hang in there.

After New Zealand won the toss and opted to bat first, Indian pacers Mohammed Siraj (4/17) and Arshdeep Singh (4/37) produced sensational bowling performances to bowl out the Black Caps for 160 despite fighting half-centuries by Devon Conway (59 off 49) and Glenn Phillips (54 off 33).

Chasing 161 to win, India were reeling at 21/3 in 2.5 overs but Pandya hit three boundaries and a six during his unbeaten knock and along with Deepak Hooda (9 not out off 9) took India to 75/4 in 9 overs when rain stopped play.

According to DLS, 76 would have been the winning score for India after 9 overs but they were 75, which was the par score. With incessant rain lashing the McLean Park, the match couldn’t be resumed and eventually, it ended in a tie as India clinched the three-match series 1-0, courtesy of their 65-run win in the second game in Mount Maunganui on Sunday.

The first game between the two sides at Wellington was washed out without a ball being bowled.

“Think, I have played enough cricket to watch the scoreboard and play, so I was aware of the situation and they (coach and support staff) were trying to pass on the same message. When I came out, they were like ‘we were trying to send a message to you’. I said, ‘but I already knew what you were trying to say’,” said Hardik at the post-match presentation.

“Obviously, sometimes when you’re playing you’re not aware, but I think somewhere down the line where I play, most of the time I have to see the scoreboard and play accordingly. So I was aware,” he added.

Asked how difficult is the job of the modern T20 captains as they not only have to make sure to always bowl the overs on time but also have to worry about the rain radars, DLS and all, the all-rounder said it’s not that difficult.

“It’s not difficult, it’s there everything on the scoreboard and the same part if I can make it I can make it more complicated and think about a lot. Obviously, rain is not in my control. So it was simple to see the scoreboard and I realised that when it started drizzling, it was 63 and DLS required 63. So at that point in time, I was watching every ball, making sure that we stayed on par with DLS.

“To be honest, I did not expect the rain to come in, close down the game. But my point was saying ‘if it stops, I want to be at the DLS par score’. That’s the reason all of a sudden when we were hitting, we realised it and I told Hooda that ‘right now just keep playing, let’s stay there’. At the same point of time, we lost wickets as well, so we had to consolidate and kind of take the game deep and do the same thing, what we have been doing,” he added.

The 29-year-old Pandya gave clarity on how he perceives the views of Sunil Gavaskar or Ravi Shastri, who see in him India’s next T20 captain.

“If people are saying, you feel good about it but till something happens (official announcement), you can’t say. To be honest, my thing is simple, if I do one match or one series, I will lead the team my way, how I see and perceive the game. Whenever I am given the opportunity, I will always go out and play the brand of cricket I know. As a unit, we will display my brand. As far as whatever (captaincy) comes in future, we will see,” he said.

Sanju Samson and Umran Malik missed out on game time during the series but Pandya feels that there is enough time for everyone to get enough opportunities and a long rope, adding that he understands that people don’t like sitting on the bench and there need to be conversations.

“Had it been a bigger series and not three games, we could have played them. But I don’t believe in chopping and changing in a short series and going forward also that will be my philosophy,” he said.

“It’s not difficult to handle the situation where players feel security. I share a cordial rapport with all players and the players I am unable to pick, there is nothing personal and even they know it. It is because of the combination I am not able to play them.

“I am a people’s man and if anyone feels otherwise, my doors are always open to come and chat with me. I understand their feelings. Sanju Samson is an unfortunate case. We had to play him but for some strategic reason, we couldn’t play him,” he added.

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